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Officials: Estimated 100,000 hens died in Connecticut fire

Most of the eggs from the pasture raised hens at Back Forty Farms are now freeze dried and sold for about $20 a dozen.
Back Forty Farms
Most of the eggs from the pasture raised hens at Back Forty Farms are now freeze dried and sold for about $20 a dozen.

An estimated 100,000 hens died in a weekend fire at a Connecticut farm owned by one of the country's largest egg producers, Connecticut officials confirmed Monday. It's one of several such fires that have killed millions of chickens around the country over the past decade.

The blaze Saturday at the Hillandale Farms property in Bozrah, about 30 miles southeast of Hartford, drew dozens of firefighters from the area and took hours to put out. The cause remains under investigation. No people were injured.

The state Department of Agriculture said it appears approximately 100,000 egg-laying hens died. It credited farm employees and emergency responders with preventing more hen deaths by containing the fire to one of the farm's several buildings.

The agency also said the impact on egg prices was expected to be “minimal to none.”

Hillandale Farms, which has corporate offices in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, said in a statement that it is "working with fire officials to support a thorough investigation of the cause of the fire. All employees are safe. There will be no further comment at this time.”

On its website, the company says it raises more than 20 million chickens for eggs.

In nearby Lebanon, Connecticut, a fire in 2016 at a Hillandale Farms subsidiary killed 80,000 to 100,000 hens. The company also lost more than 100,000 chickens in a farm fire in Tyrone Township, Pennsylvania, in 2017.

The Animal Welfare Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based animal protection advocacy organization, urged farms Monday to boost safety measures.

The organization said some of the country's largest egg farm fires include one in North Manchester, Indiana, in 2017 that killed 1 million chickens and another in Bloomfield, Nebraska, in 2020 that killed 400,000 hens.

In a report last year, the institute said heating and other electrical malfunctions caused a large majority of barn fires.

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